Honoring Our Pets During National Pet Week
Recognize National Pet Week with reading and writing activities to celebrate the animals in your pupils' lives.
By Dawn Dodson
As a part of a month-long awareness project organized by various pet organizations, the 2013 National Pet Week will be celebrated May 5th-11th. This year’s motto, “You and your pets: Companions for Life,” is dedicated to the promotion of the well-being of animals, and recognizing the professionals who care for them. National Pet Week has a website complete with information, facts, and ways in which individuals, schools, and families may become involved over the course of the week. Knowing that many pupils have pets, share family pets, or would one day like their own pet, makes this a great classroom theme for structuring a variety of reading and writing activities.
Discover Fiction and Nonfiction Books
Kick off National Pet Week by providing and displaying a variety of literature focused on animals. In order to capture the attention and focus of each individual learner, I recommend offering both fiction and nonfiction options. One popular selection among my own sixth grade readers is A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron. Favorite nonfiction selections include instructional books on how to take care of specific breeds of pets, and interesting facts about those breeds. Pupils choose books for independent reading and are given the opportunity to journal their reactions and/or thoughts.
Journaling with a Twist
Reading about pets often provokes deep personal connections, which makes this an easy writing topic for most pupils. From family memories, to comical stories about the new puppy, my students always seem to have an interesting story to share. With this in mind, National Pet Week is an appropriate time to have writers journal their favorite pet stories. Journal topics can include reading responses, learning logs, and personal stories. For those writers who do not own a pet, they may write a journal detailing their dream pet. In order to make the animal journals special, and also to help motivate writing during the spring, journals are completed on special paper, made from different colors and designs. At the conclusion of the week, collect the journals and make them into a book, complete with a cover made by the author.
Compose Pet Poetry
When spring rolls around, our class has already read, analyzed, and written a variety of poems. As a fun activity for both readers and poets, the class composes “Who Am I?” poems. Each year I choose a different theme. Take this idea and try it using National Pet Week as a theme. Each poet can choose an animal to create his poem. The challenge is in choosing words, phrases, and the various forms of figurative language to describe an animal so others can guess its identity. Poets share their poems with the class and the audience takes turns guessing the identity of the animal.
Create Your Own Pet Contest
For this cross-curricular activity, pupils create an original animal. The sky is the limit, and both fact and fiction are included. However, the animal needs to have a definable habitat. The project requirements include an illustration of the animal, and an essay describing where the animal lives, its food sources, predators, and how it was discovered. Animals and their accompanying essays are shared and displayed in class.
Reach Out to the Community
Another way to recognize National Pet Week is to help a local pet shelter. Depending upon the shelter and its needs, your class could sponsor a food and supply drive, a fundraiser, or spend a few hours doing some volunteer work at the shelter. They could also work to raise community awareness regarding the care and responsibilities required with pet ownership. The local shelter in my community schedules speakers for classroom visits. The information these speakers share with the class, as well as the furry visitors that accompany them, is a great way to start National Pet Week.
ELA Common Core Standards
Pupils choose an animal to research. The information they find is transformed into a diary written from the perspective of the animal.
Here is a lesson that utilizes critical thinking skills as pupils learn the cause and effect of humans in animal habitats. Learners create art, read, write, and research an animal of their choice.
Pupils study the role of media and perceptions of animals. After viewing images and reading accounts of animals in the media, pupils compose a story that confronts some animal stereotypes.